In the annals of Punk/Hardcore/Extreme Metal/Goth, Philadelphia’s scenes have, historically within the genres, been almost completely overlooked *(or overshadowed, as it were, by those of NYC and D.C.), laying low mostly, but for a small spattering of bands/performers *(over the decades), most notably JOAN JETT *(yes, she’s from Philly, even though her musical explosion came from that other coast – – – she’s still got a bronze plaque along the sidewalk of the “Avenue of the Arts,” aka: S. Broad Street), DEAD MILKMEN, BAD LUCK 13 *(aka: THE BAD LUCK 13 RIOT EXTRAVAGANZA, originally named SNAILTRAIL, and not one of my favorites), Goth/Synth-Punks EXECUTIVE SLACKS, and ATOM & HIS PACKAGE *(a one-man band formed by ADAM GOREN, from the ashes of his previous Punk act FRACTURE), all of whom either breaking through the incredibly limited confines of this city *(if you live in this hateful, fukked up city, then you know what a dire fukking chore that can be, if even ever a possibility), or howling just loud enough to be heard, and subsequently noticed *(be it for the better or worse).
In a city consistently rife with the particular issues it has *(at this point primarily guns, perpetual violence, and race-relations – – – as I don’t view drug use as a crime I’ll not count that, however, it doesn’t particularly help within the confines of such a terminally broken and corrupt system of bullshit as this city in particular seems to both attract and thrive upon; you’ll be thrown in the clink for having a lil Diesel on you quick as greased lightning, while the sex-offender will walk scott free) the climes are perfect for all forms of odd, angry musics to abound – – – which they have, the best only to be found with a microscopic lens.
Philadelphia has birth-pained and played host to quite a few notable acts over the years: PURE HELL *(a late 70’s all black Punk band – – – predating BAD BRAINS in that respect by a coupla years [though there was the Detroit Pre-Punk trio DEATH before both]), McRAD, F.O.D. *(FLAG OF DEMOCRACY), THORAZINE, MASQUERADE, RANCID VAT, DISUCKS, THE A’s, LISA SUCKDOG, CARFAX ABBEY, RUPERT SPEED, SLEESTACK, VIOLENT SOCIETY, TRIBE 13, NEKROMANTIK SUNSHINE, PAGAN BABIES, INFANT MORTALITY, CRANK IT UP!, AGE OF DESIRE, SMuT, METHWISH, SPACE CHRIST, HEIDNIK, THE NECROTICS, DISSOCIATE, CADAVER DOGS, THE VIRUS, SOMA/HELDEN, THE DROOGETTES, BLACK DAHLIA, BRAIN BUCKET – – – I could go on and on. Almost every form of underground experimentation, melody, style, performance and extremity is represented within the handful of aforementioned acts, listed in no particular chronological order though spanning decades.
Which within that lengthy, overlong exposition of an introduction, brings us to the subject at hand, Philadelphia’s own WOLVES ATTACK!! and their debut 2016 Ep DOMINATE, a five-song onslaught of pummelling ferocity that runs about eight minutes in length. How did I find out about WOLVES ATTACK!! *(the “!!” is a part of their name, which for whatever reason is usually missing from promoter flyers, etc., something vocalist JOHN WALLS finds incredibly annoying and, realistically, does pinpoint to the microcephaly most humans seem to blissfully suffer from [pun totally intended, for those who caught it; for those it’s lost on – – – no, I won’t explain it, pinhead])? That, in and of itself, is an interesting story.
Back in early November of 2016, something I never thought would happen, did. CANCERSLUG were playing Philly as part of a sort of promotional East Coast mini-tour, hitting cities they’ve yet to let experience the sheer force of nature that is their live performance *(I did in fact write a review of this show, titled NIGHT OF THE LYCANTHROPES: CANCERSLUG with WOLVES ATTACK!!, but never published it as I found the experience of a very personal and transformative nature, having rarely experienced a show with the oddities and power of this one – – – in short, it was personal, to a level not all may understand, and I wanted to keep it as such). But this was in fact how I found out about WOLVES ATTACK!!, who put on a live performance that brings in a wholly different aspect to the Hardcore/Punk/Grind/Black Metal that’s heard on the DOMINATE ep, fully rounding this out with a unique visual scope, but possibly creating a new sub-sub genre within a subgenre: WOLFCORE, anyone?
That evening, while waiting eagerly for CANCERSLUG to take the stage, fellow philosopher and occasional pensman *(my good friend Nick Perrone) and I were wandering about the club, between bands, just looking at stuff. We noticed WOLVES ATTACK!! setting up: human skulls and wolf heads dangling from monitors, mic stands, and the drum kit alike. The band themselves appeared as raging ghouls, strange and sloppy corpse-paint running down their faces and a lust for the hunt in their eyes. Taking intrigued notice of this, Nick suggested that we go “see what’s going on over there.” So over we went, and immediately the quite friendly WOLVES ATTACK!! frontman JOHN WALLS tossed us a couple of beers and engaged us in some fun, pre-show adrenalized and slightly altered conversation – – – then proceeded to enlist us as a part of the show, seconds before they were to go on. How so, you may ask? As the Alpha of the Pack, JOHN wanted us to carry him out to the front of the stage during their royalistic show-intro din – – – a fitting entrance for what was about to come. *(I’d like to mention at this point that both Nick and myself are far physically stronger than we appear – – – Nick took the head of the mangled fainting couch that JOHN WALLS lay upon like some demented Nero, donned in odd layers of gore matted wolfskins and bloodied bone jewelry, while I took the feet end of the “Emperor’s Throne” – – – and JOHN, you are one heavy mutherfukker). So out we carried the vocalist in perfect timing *(having played in a multitude of highly theatrical bands myself over the past 26 years or so, I was no stranger to this bit of improved live skullduggery), and JOHN took the stage in full fury & glory, a deranged grin on his face as he stomped about the stage, owning their territory, “Pissing On Everything” as one might put it *(I believe that was the name of one of the songs I heard live, unfortunately not on the DOMINATE ep).
The rest of the show played out as the gargantuan vocalist leered, sneered, and began to squirt booze, as well as various colored fluids, some of it supposed to be blood, and some blue shit, surrounded by his equally impishly confrontational and bloodied sonic gargoyles – – – it reminded me of being at some of the earliest of GWAR shows in my youth; it’s something you just don’t see done anymore, except maybe by the band that still calls themselves GWAR *(RIP DAVE BROCKIE), and ALICE COOPER. But it was on the back pocket budget of the band themselves *(personal experience: invariably with music of a theatrical nature, one generally loses money – – – which is just kind of music – – – eh fuggit, that’s any artistic pursuits, in general), reminding me of my own prior performance shenanigans – – – and leaving me with the curiosity of if that was how people who caught *(or got caught by) my old blood-bands felt when not even remotely expecting anything of this nature to occur when coming in the door. It gave me a pleasant nostalgia, watching this “Pack to the Future” *(a song that is on DOMINATE, which I’ll get to). So in a sense, their live performance, as a whole, puts a new twist to some old themes, and creates some entirely new ones. The werewolf with the squirtgun full of blood just wandering the pit calmly and soaking everyone was not only really fukking cool, but refreshing, too *(it was fukking hot in there). However, amidst all of this hyper-violence and chaos and cannibalistic, post-apocalyptic imagery, lay at its very heart a long forgotten sense of both humor and, most importantly, fun. These guys were having a fukking blast, and at no point took themselves too seriously, if even seriously at all. It just brought back a sense of glorious, inane fun.
Anyway, I’ve since then found the WOLVES ATTACK!! DOMINATE ep, and have come to find it compulsively re-listenable, though generally not my particular bag of blackened and bloodstained, metalized hardcore punk. I loathe making comparisons, but for those who need it, WOLVES ATTACK!! is like a unique chimera-mutation of NAPALM DEATH meets the CRO-MAGS by way of IMPALED NAZARENE, birthed through the urethra of CARNIVORE’s finer moments, in a placental sack of classic NASUM. There’s no filler here – – – no time for it; this is sheer primal corruption of sound, and it works.
DOMINATE opens with the all-out assault of “Who Am I?” *(my personal favorite on the album) which, halfway through, sluices into the chunk-riffs that finalize the piece. It’s followed by the crunch-laden “Silver Bullet,” which slides directly into the far more complex, mosh-riff based “Throat R.I.P.” After that comes my second favorite on the album, the epic *(two minutes and twenty five seconds – – – the only song to conquer the two minute mark) “Pack to the Future.” The album ends with the brutalistic, vicious “Bite Radius,” making sure they’ve left their mark. Recorded, mixed, and mastered by JEFF BARROW, the sound is cold-molasses thick, yet retaining a SICK OF IT ALL/BIOHAZARD type of heavy, every note being audible in a cleanly-raw style of production. The complex beat-keeping of the rhythm section of JIM WEISS *(bass) and TOM TAYLOR *(drums) is spot on, as need be for the interesting Frankensteining of stop-start song structures, while the dual guitar assault of ERIC WALLS and JASON CARR go from being part of the great rhythmic wall to instantly weaving around each other like harried serpents in a dual-octave combat, those serpents occasionally being knotted at the ends by quick and unexpected, catchy high-end hooks – – – that’s a hell of a lot of work/creativity put into songs that are all mostly under two minutes, and it never feels crammed or rushed. These nihilistic and barbarian bursts of general misanthropy and rabid party WOLFCORE violence are seemingly comprised of the best parts of the average overlong Metal or Hardcore song: Intros, Buildups, and Breakdowns. At moments they remind me of old Philly band METHWISH, whom gave us the classics “The Goes The Nose” and “Snap, Crackle, Chop,” in that they had a quite similar mentality of humor and heavy to their Scum Punk Hardcore stylings.
In short, DOMINATE by WOLVES ATTACK!! is a must for any fan of loud, fast, heavy, chunky, confrontational and in your fukking face music, be it Grind, NY Hardcore, Black/Death Metal, Metal-Punk, or what-the-fukk-ever you want to call it. Definitely one of the more interesting acts I’ve seen emerge from the City of Brotherly Hate in quite some time. If you have the chance to see them live, DO IT. And be sure to wear white.
QUICKLY!! Take 8 fukking minutes out of your useless day and better it by checking out WOLVES ATTACK!!, DOMINATE, for free at the link provided below. They can be found easily on Facebook as well.
WOLVES ATTACK!!, DOMINATE: https://wolvesattack.bandcamp.com/releases